Stories behind area memorials

May 28, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

Maybe you've noticed them, the dozens of memorial plaques around the area dedicating a tree, a bench, a garden or a structure in memory of a loved one.

For most of us the stories behind those plaques are a mystery. Today we're revealing more about the people to whom they are dedicated.

Fate remembered

PEN MAR - Down the hill, beyond the woods lies a patchwork of farms with treelines as stitching and silos that look like toy pieces.

This is the view sitting on a bench at Pen Mar Park, overlooking the Maryland-Pennsylvania state line.

On the back of the bench is a black plaque that reads:

"In loving memory
John H. and Josephine Crout
Who met at Pen Mar Park,
And son, John W. Crout,
Who had his picture taken
Every year (with his sister)
At Pen Mar Park
Placed by the Family"


Joan Hodgson, who donated the bench to the Washington County park, said she and her brother, John W. Crout, had their pictures taken as children each year at the park's photography studio.

Her parents, John H. and Josephine Crout, met at the park in the 1920s.

"Mother often told me she was walking with a friend down the little midway, and this man was approaching with this little kewpie doll. (She said to him) 'Gee, I'd like to have this little kewpie doll.' That's all it took," she recalled.

The couple married July 23, 1927.

Hodgson, 74, of Hagerstown, bought the bench soon after the April 2000 death of her brother, who was a Maryland State Police trooper for 24 years.

Their great-grandfather, their father's grandfather, owned The Crout Hotel at Pen Mar.

"That's probably why Daddy knew so much about Pen Mar," she said.

Some mementos from the hotel, such as goblets, are in the park's museum.

The Crouts settled down in Hagerstown.

Her father, originally from Rouzerville, Pa., drove a Manbeck's Bread Truck before going to work for aircraft manufacturer Fairchild.

Her mother, originally from Waynesboro, Pa., quit school in the seventh grade to support her brothers. She worked at Interwoven Hosiery Co. until she married and became a housewife.

When she was a child, Pen Mar Park was an amusement park with a carousel and little train - one of many things to remember.

"It's a beautiful memory. It really is," she said.

Home away from home

Clyde and Helen Hoffman met in Hagerstown's City Park.

"They always remembered that and talked about it," says Bob Hoffman, the couple's eldest son.

The couple took Bob and his brother, Gene, to the park on summer Sundays to listen to the Hagerstown Municipal Band. The boys attended art classes at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, and the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in the museum's concert gallery.

Hoffman, who lives in Charlottesville, Va., bought the bench about a year after his father died Feb. 5, 1998. Clyde Hoffman was a 47-year employee at Potomac Edison Co., where his father also had worked.

He also served as a third-class petty officer third class in a U.S. Navy ship repair unit during World War II.

Helen Hoffman, also deceased, was a housewife, raising her boys.

To honor their memory, Bob Hoffman bought a wooden bench with an oenate iron panel featuring angels playing horns and emptying cornucopias among plants.

The small silver oval plaque on the back reads simply "In Loving Memory of Clyde & Helen Hoffman."

The bench sits atop a hill, in the shade, looking down upon the band shell where the Municipal Band still plays during summer Sunday evenings.

"They loved the park and the park was so much a part of our growing up," Bob Hoffman says.

Sports fan involved on and off the field

HALFWAY - Timothy Flook loved playing sports, from peewee football to Little League baseball to adult flag football, says his mother, Mary Anne Flook of Hagerstown.

Flook died at age 43 in December 2001, and that spring his friends Buddy and Jo Ellen Swartz of Williamsport planted a pink dogwood in Flook's memory.

The tree, surrounded by large hostas, stands near the flag football field at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park, where Flook played.

Flook was "very friendly, very giving," says Jo Ellen Swartz, who was Flook's first wife.

"He loved working with children and he loved football," she says. He was active in Ravens Roost, a local fan group for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens and, before that, was a member of the Colt Corral.

Flook, who worked for B.P. Lesky Distributor, also played West End Little League baseball and Pony League baseball, his mother says.

After he could no longer play flag football, Flook served on the Washington County Flag Football League board and was president, Swartz says.

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